Beauty for Ashes
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
Weary and worn, heart-broken and discouraged, Naomi drew close to Bethlehem. Memories of leaving here years before because of a famine filled her mind. Had it been the right thing to do? She thought of the graves of her husband and sons left now in Moab. She was thankful that, Ruth, her daughter-in-law had been willing to accompany her on the journey. Would she have been able to make it on her own? Her mind was filled with questions. Would they have a place to stay? Would the people accept Ruth and treat her kindly?
As her former friends gathered around, they questioned whether it was really her. She told them, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara. I left her full and blessed, but I have returned empty, broken and afflicted.”
But God reaches out to broken people, shows them the way back home and in His mercy and love works all things together for good. It may not have been God’s perfect plan for Naomi and her family to go to Moab. But because they did, Ruth came to Bethlehem. As time went by, she found favour with Boaz and eventually became his wife, thus putting her in the lineage of the family from which the Messiah, Jesus, would come.
“And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.” Ruth 4:14
From broken to blessed. What a great story of the Lord’s love and grace. No matter how far away we may be from God, it only takes one step to start the journey to return.
Is there someone reading this today, who feels like Naomi. During the past two years, you may have lost one or more loved ones. You have been isolated from friends and family. You feel that you are empty and broken. But God specializes in repairing broken people. He will hear your cry, and restore your joy, give you beauty for ashes, and something to rejoice about.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, that you see down deep in our hearts. You know when our spirits are low, and when we feel broken and sometimes bitter. Give us a new desire to know you, and a willingness to let you mend our lives and make them something beautiful.
Devotion by Anne Johnston